Media Advisories

Enough Project's John Prendergast: South Sudan Peace Deal at "Grave Risk"

Date: 
Jul 10, 2016

After returning from South Sudan this past week, Enough Project Founding Director John Prendergast said: "The South Sudan peace deal is at grave risk due to the fighting in Juba, just one day after South Sudan marked its fifth anniversary as the world's newest independent country. Just as consequentially, the massive humanitarian aid effort is also being put at extreme jeopardy at a time when nearly five million people are severely food insecure. Command and control on both sides of the fighting appears to have broken down. Regional leaders are actively promoting a ceasefire, seemingly the only hope for preventing a return to full scale war."

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT

The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

South Sudan Marks Fifth Year of Independence

Date: 
Jul 8, 2016

Enough Project: Those benefiting from war shouldn’t be allowed to hold the entire nation hostage.

South Sudan, Africa’s newest country, will usher in its fifth year of independence tomorrow. The country, already ravaged by conflict and poverty, is facing immediate threats of famine, economic implosion, and inter-ethnic war.

Brian Adeba, Associate Director at the Enough Project, said: “As South Sudan marks its fifth independence anniversary, it faces unprecedented challenges: the implementation of the peace deal is stalling and the economy is in dire straits. This week’s escalation of violence pitting the SPLA and the armed opposition in the Gudele area of Juba risks plunging the country into a full-scale war if not arrested. In the wake of the armed confrontations in Juba, both President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar must rein in their armed forces and reassure the public of their full commitment to the peace process. Both leaders must further commit to the urgent institutional reforms called for in the August 2015 peace agreement in order to foster accountability and end impunity.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “If the conflict continues between Kiir's and Machar's forces, and given the history of scorched-earth tactics both sides utilize, including massive cattle raiding, international aid providers will simply not be able to keep up with their pace of destruction. Combined with an imploding economy, failing food markets and spiraling food prices, full-blown famine in the hardest-hit areas could result.  Those benefiting from war shouldn’t be allowed to hold the entire nation hostage after only five years of independence.”

Adeba added: “South Sudan’s fifth independence anniversary offers an opportunity for its leaders to look back and review the mishaps that have destroyed the country. But all is not lost. At this time, South Sudan’s politicians should acquire the political will required to fully implement the peace agreement in order to facilitate the urgent process of rebuilding the economy.”

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Megha Swamy, Media Relations Specialist, at +1 202-580-7671mswamy@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

U.S. House Votes to Undermine Transparency and Conflict-Free Supply Chains in Democratic Republic of Congo

Date: 
Jul 7, 2016

Rep. Huizenga's Appropriations Amendment Seeks to Defund Critical SEC Conflict Minerals Enforcement

Efforts to support peace, corporate accountability, and transparency in the Democratic Republic of Congo faced a setback today, as the House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) to defund implementation of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC)’s rule to address conflict minerals. 

The 11th-hour amendment, added to a larger financial services appropriations bill, states that no government funds can be used to enforce the SEC’s conflict mineral rule pursuant to Provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Defunding this provision would undermine years of progress that has been made by companies, private sector initiatives, and regional governments to support conflict-free minerals sourcing from Congo.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The conflict minerals provision in Dodd-Frank has spurred major progress in starting rule of law in Congo's minerals sector and helping make the majority of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines conflict-free. Before the law was passed, armed groups and their sponsors profited hand-over-fist from the minerals trade, but today 70% of surveyed 3T mines are conflict-free. It's time to focus on addressing the gaps -- particularly conflict gold and artisanal miners' livelihood programs -- instead of moving backwards and undermining the law, as proposed by Rep. Huizenga’s amendment.”

Many Congolese communities and leaders support Dodd-Frank 1502 because they have seen direct positive impacts, because they believe in transparency and the rule of law, or both. Additionally, major corporations such as Intel, KEMET, and Apple have embraced these regulations and used them as a catalyst to reform their own supply chains and deliberately source conflict-free minerals. Rep. Huizenga’s proposed amendment would unravel years of work that has led to significant positive developments continuing to build both in Congo and within corporate supply chains.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The defunding of section 1502 in today's bill is an attempt to halt momentum toward corporate transparency and responsible sourcing. It ignores real progress in eastern Congo, where people once beset by brutal violence have said their lives are safer since 1502 and related reforms have come to be. This fight is not over - the Senate should send a clear message that corporate executives cannot turn a blind eye to where their minerals come from by voting no on this amendment.”

Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of 3T conflict mines in eastern Congo. 69 percent of the world’s smelters for the four minerals, the choke points in minerals supply chains, have now passed conflict-free audits (223 smelters in total). In 2015, 948 tons of conflict-free tantalum was exported from eastern Congo -- a 19 percent increase over the 2014 record, and a 387 percent increase over 2013.

Brad Brooks-Rubin, Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Section 1502 has prompted many companies to take concrete and positive steps to improve their supply chain sourcing practices.  In particular, companies in many sectors now implement stronger due diligence practices to ensure their supply chains are conflict-free, and they can demonstrate this to their customers and an increasingly socially conscious consuming public.  Having survived a vigorous court challenge, Section 1502 must remain fully funded and enforced so that these gains can be leveraged and expanded.”    

For more information about the impact of Dodd-Frank 1502:  http://eno.ug/1iCJiVj

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

U.S. Begins Targeted Sanctions on Kabila Regime, Should Continue Until Timely Elections Scheduled

Date: 
Jun 23, 2016

Kinshasa Police Commissioner Célestin Kanyama, responsible for repression, sanctioned; U.S. and E.U. should follow with additional financial pressure if elections not scheduled, repression not halted

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa, on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. General Kanyama has been linked to at least three police operations that used excessive force, including “Operation Likofi” in which police summarily killed at least 51 youth and forcibly disappeared 33 others during an anti-crime campaign from November 2013 to January 2014, as well as deadly attacks on peaceful protestors in October 2015.

Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The chief of police is often a key tool in the machinery of a government determined to silence its people. Kanyama is accused of orchestrating a sinister set of crackdowns against Congolese civilians over the past two years, ratcheting up fear ahead of Kabila's possible third term. Activists and insiders are speaking up anyway, demanding a peaceful transition of power. Today's sanctions action is exactly the kind of enforcement step needed to complement the work of those communities on the frontlines, and send a message to Kabila's regime that abusive behavior will have consequences.”

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Today's sanctions announcement is the first spark to light a fire under the Kabila government to hold elections in a timely manner and halt repression. If Kabila fails to organize timely elections, more and more members of his inner circle should be designated for asset freezes and visa bans, and the European Union should follow suit.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “In order for this welcome step of sanctioning Kanyama to be meaningful and have the desired impact, we must see vigorous and immediate implementation through identification and blocking of his assets. Kanyama and those around him must feel it. Sanctions, however, are only one tool that the United States and others in the international community should bring to bear to stop the regime's quest to stay in power. The use of anti-money laundering provisions, anti-corruption investigations, and steps to condition donor assistance must also be deployed in the service of democracy and peace in Congo.”

DRC President Joseph Kabila has been criticized for undermining the country’s constitution, including the attempted removal of presidential term limits, delays in scheduled elections, and violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations.

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

“Historic”: ICC sentences Jean-Pierre Bemba to 18 years in prison

Date: 
Jun 21, 2016

 

Enough Project experts available for comment and analysis

Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba to 18 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Experts at the Enough Project have been following the case and are available for comment and analysis.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: "Bemba’s sentencing decision will impact communities all over central Africa, and the future of international criminal trials. It is historic on a few levels, this was the first time the court decided an appropriate punishment for gender-based violence -- in this case, brutal rapes committed by Bemba's troops against women and children. Bemba is also the highest-level official the court has ever sentenced, helping pave a path for the court to prosecute more government officials who oversee abuses by their troops. The hope is that with each new condemnation, the ICC can gradually extinguish the climate of impunity that still prevails for grave crimes, especially by official state actors, and especially against women."

In March, Bemba was convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder, and pillage committed during armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003.

Nathalia Dukhan, Field Researcher and Analyst for the Enough Project, said: "Today's verdict represents a real hope for many war victims seeking justice, particularly in countries experiencing long-lasting conflicts that are failing to address impunity. For many Central Africans, this verdict is only partial and leaves justice unfinished. Warlords involved in the 2002- 2003 coup in CAR who have not been convicted by the ICC have backslided in the 2013 crisis, leaving thousands of new victims behind."

Bemba is a former leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), an armed rebel group that committed widespread sexual violence and pillage during a military campaign to help defend the former president of CAR, Ange-Félix Patassé, from a coup attempt. 

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

Une organisation criminelle multimillionnaire détruit de vastes étendues du parc des Virunga pour son charbon de bois

Date: 
Jun 20, 2016

 

Click here to read this press release in English.

Un rapport fracassant de l’Enough Project révèle les opérations mafieuses d’un groupe rebelle congolais : un commerce transfrontalier illégal de charbon de bois marqué par des meurtres abominables, des réseaux d’espions et la complicité de la police et de fonctionnaires, au rythme du saccage de forêts anciennes.

Un nouveau rapport fracassant d’Enough Project, organisme de promotion des politiques de prévention des atrocités, révèle que de vastes pans de la forêt ancienne des Virunga, le plus ancien parc national d’Afrique, sont détruits par une organisation mafieuse n’hésitant pas à recourir à la violence qui brasse des millions grâce au commerce illégal de charbon de bois (Lien vers le résumé, version Francaise).

Le rapport d’Holly Dranginis, analyste politique principale de l’Enough Project, intitulé « The Mafia in the Park: A charcoal syndicate is threatening Virunga, Africa's oldest national park » (Mafia dans les Virunga : un cartel de charbon de bois menace le plus ancien parc national d'Afrique), examine de près la montée des affaires criminelles menées par les FDLR, un groupe rebelle armé lié au génocide rwandais. Ses activités sont marquées par des meurtres abominables, des réseaux d’espionnage et des trafics transfrontaliers, lesquels, comme le souligne le rapport, se font avec la complicité de la police, de l’armée et de représentants du gouvernement corrompus.

Selon Holly Dranginis, auteure du rapport et analyste politique principale de l’Enough Project, « La consolidation de la paix en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) est vouée à l’échec si l’on ne lutte pas contre les réseaux commerciaux complexes opérant dans l’Est. Le trafic de charbon de bois n’en est qu’un parmi tant d’autres, mais il fournit des financements importants aux FDLR, reflète l’impunité rampante des responsables publics impliqués dans des activités criminelles, et se déroule dans une clandestinité et une violence propres aux mafias rappelant les pires cartels de drogues latino-américains. »

John Prendergast, Directeur fondateur de l’Enough Project, estime que « Le commerce illégal de charbon de bois et ses dangereux barons sont les symptômes d’un système plus vaste de vol, de corruption et d’exploitation devenu systématique en RDC. Loin d’être un cas isolé, ce commerce se distingue néanmoins par les dégâts qu’il cause – non seulement envers l’un des endroits jouissant de l’une des plus riches biodiversités au monde, mais également envers la sécurité humaine et l’État de droit. Les interventions politiques doivent être rapides, anticipées et doivent impliquer tous les individus et toutes les organisations se trouvant aux premières lignes de la crise. Une meilleure compréhension des liens existant entre les acteurs étatiques et non étatiques renforcerait l’efficacité des interventions de lutte contre les réseaux criminels à grande échelle, dans toute la région ».

Le précieux charbon de bois des Virunga, appelé Ndobo, est obtenu en coupant et en brûlant les arbres centenaires du parc. Comme le souligne le rapport, la destruction de ces forêts a des conséquences dévastatrices pour les gardes forestiers, les communautés locales et les espèces en voie d’extinction telles que les gorilles et les éléphants.

Holly Dranginis ajoute : « Le commerce criminel du charbon de bois des Virunga fait disparaître des pans entiers de forêts tropicales rares et anciennes, essentielles à la sécurité climatique et aux espèces menacées dans la région. Un travail héroïque est déjà en cours pour aider à protéger les Virunga. Mais le temps presse pour lutter contre le commerce du charbon de bois, actif depuis des années et contre lequel peu d’interventions ont réussi. »

S’étendant sur près de 3 000 mètres carrés dans le nord-est du Congo, les Virunga sont le plus ancien parc national d’Afrique et inscrits au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO. Pareille à celle d’aucun autre site protégé d’Afrique, la biodiversité des Virunga abrite des espèces d’oiseaux rares, quelques-uns des derniers gorilles des montagnes, et des éléphants de forêt menacés d’extinction. Le parc a récemment attiré l’attention en faisant l’objet du documentaire « Virunga », produit par Leonardo DiCaprio et nommé aux Oscars de 2014.

Éléments clés du rapport :

  • Le groupe rebelle armé connu sous le nom de « Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) » représente le pivot des réseaux de criminalité organisée dans la région des Grands Lacs et continue à menacer la sécurité des populations. Depuis des années, ce groupe finance ses activités en exploitant des ressources naturelles précieuses, dont des minéraux, mais aussi l’ivoire, le poisson et la marijuana. Mais l’une des activités les plus rémunératrices des FDLR est le commerce illicite du charbon de bois dans le Parc national des Virunga, trésor de la République démocratique du Congo.
     
  • Établi dans les profondeurs de la zone sud-ouest des Virunga, le commerce illégal du charbon de bois est lucratif. D’après certaines estimations, il rapporterait chaque année jusqu’à 35 millions de dollars. Comme l’a avancé l’un des gardes forestiers à Enough, « les groupes armés ont fait des Virunga leur sanctuaire ».
     
  • « Ce ne sont pas seulement les FDLR, précise une source, ce sont la police, les politiciens, et les hommes d’affaires. C’est un grand réseau mafieux. » Certains commandants de la police nationale et de l’armée congolaise sont impliqués dans le commerce illégal du charbon de bois. Ils touchent des revenus considérables, car ils partagent les recettes des FDLR et organisent aussi leur propre production, ainsi que le trafic et la taxation du charbon illégal. Plusieurs représentants de l’État offrent une protection indispensable aux commandants et aux officiers des FDLR dans les Virunga.
     
  • La prévalence du trafic illégal du charbon de bois issu des Virunga : pour beaucoup, le charbon de bois est une affaire purement congolaise, mais des témoignages ont révélé que le charbon de bois des Virunga était acheminé aussi loin qu’en Ouganda et au Rwanda.
     
  • Les violations directes des droits de l’homme communément pratiquées par les cartels illégaux de charbon de bois comprennent des meurtres commis en représailles, de l’esclavage sexuel, et des formes extrêmes de travail forcé.

Recommandations clés du rapport :

  1. Les décideurs ne devraient pas considérer les FDLR comme une menace purement militaire, politique ou idéologique : il s’agit aussi d’un réseau de criminalité organisée à but lucratif qui s’appuie sur des collaborateurs situés au sein du gouvernement et de la société civile. Pour lutter contre la criminalité organisée du charbon de bois en RDC, il faut poursuivre et sanctionner les hauts responsables des FDLR et leurs partenaires de l’armée pour leur rôle dans ce commerce illégal. Les autorités devraient faciliter les défections des soldats de grade inférieur des FDLR dans les Virunga, pour priver les trafiquants d’une main-d’œuvre essentielle.
  2. Les foyers de la région étant largement dépendants du charbon de bois, utilisé comme premier combustible, les actions visant à mettre fin à son commerce, telles que les interventions militaires et les arrestations ciblées, doivent s’accompagner de mesures portant sur d’autres types de combustibles, afin d’éviter une pénurie qui toucherait des millions de personnes dans la région.
  3. Protection des défenseurs : les unités de la MONUSCO chargées de la justice et des droits de l’homme doivent renforcer le suivi et le soutien des militants de la conservation, lesquels sont ciblés en raison de leurs actions de défense des parcs nationaux en RDC et de leurs investigations sur les crimes environnementaux, et soumettre les cas d’abus aux juges pour enquête.
  4. Le Congrès américain devrait adopter la loi S.284 – Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, qui donnerait aux États-Unis le pouvoir de sanctionner quiconque commettrait des exactions à l’encontre de personnes cherchant à révéler des activités gouvernementales illégales. Il devrait également adopter la loi concernant la lutte contre le trafic d’espèces sauvages, H.R. 2494, qui autoriserait une assistance technique visant à protéger les gardes forestiers et à améliorer les réponses juridiques en cas d’attaques contre des défenseurs de la forêt.
  5. La Cour pénale internationale (CPI) dans le cadre des poursuites engagées actuellement contre le commandant suprême des FDLR, Sylvestre Mudacumura, le Bureau du procureur de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) devrait enquêter sur les responsabilités et le contrôle exercé par Mudacumura sur les activités commerciales des FDLR – et notamment sur les cartels du charbon – et ajouter aux poursuites des chefs d’accusation relatifs au pillage des ressources naturelles si des preuves suffisantes sont présentées.
  6. Interventions militaires : à mesure que se développent des plans pour des opérations conjointes de l’armée congolaise et de la MONUSCO, les Envoyés spéciaux Said Djinnit et Tom Perriello devraient encourager des actions conjointes ciblées contre les bastions des FDLR dans les Virunga, en incluant les plans mis au point par la MONUSCO pour viser les plateformes du trafic de charbon et y appréhender les principaux chefs des FDLR.
  7. Efforts de démobilisation : puisque la MONUSCO envisage de collaborer avec l’armée congolaise en vue de relancer des opérations conjointes contre les FDLR, elle devrait poursuivre ses efforts en matière de désarmement, démobilisation, rapatriement, réintégration et réinstallation (DDR/RR) des combattants des FDLR dans les Virunga.

Lien vers le résumé, version Francaise: http://eno.ug/28LVAbe

Lien vers le rapport complet : http://eno.ug/1YwPVcF

Pour toute requête de la part de médias ou demande d’entretien, veuillez contacter : Greg Hittelman, Directeur de la Communication,+1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

À propos de THE ENOUGH PROJECT
Organisme de promotion des politiques de prévention des atrocités, l’Enough Project cherche à mobiliser les efforts en faveur de la paix et de la justice en Afrique en s’efforçant d’appliquer des sanctions contre les auteurs et les complices de génocides et d’autres atrocités de masse. Enough lutte contre les régimes kleptocrates violents et les groupes armés portant atteinte aux droits, alimentés par la grande corruption, la criminalité et la terreur à l’échelle internationale, ainsi que le pillage et le trafic de minéraux, d’ivoire, de diamants et d’autres ressources naturelles. Enough mène des enquêtes de terrain dans les zones de conflits, élabore des recommandations politiques en faveur desquelles il plaide, soutient des mouvements sociaux dans les pays touchés par des conflits et organise des campagnes publiques. Pour en savoir plus et nous rejoindre, rendez-vous sur www.EnoughProject.org.

Multi-Million Dollar Criminal Charcoal Syndicate Destroying Swathes of Virunga Park

Date: 
Jun 20, 2016

 

En Français

Groundbreaking Enough Project report exposes “mafia-like” operations of Congolese rebel group; brutal murders, spy networks, complicity of police and officials in illegal, cross-border charcoal trade as old-growth forests are destroyed

A groundbreaking new report by the Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, reveals wide swathes of ancient forest in Virunga, Africa’s oldest national park, are being destroyed by a violent “mafia-like” operation profiting from an illegal, multi-million dollar charcoal business. 

The in-depth report “The Mafia in the ParkA charcoal syndicate is threatening Virunga, Africa's oldest national park,” by Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, documents the rise in the park of a criminal business run by the FDLR, an armed rebel group with ties to the Rwandan genocide. Brutal murders, spy networks, and trans-border trafficking mark the operations, which the report reveals are linked to the complicity of corrupted police, army, and government officials.

Holly Dranginis, report author and Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: "Peacebuilding in Congo will be a losing game without addressing the complex business networks operating in the east. Charcoal trafficking is one of many, but it provides significant funding to the FDLR, reflects rampant impunity among state officials involved in criminal activity, and involves mafia-like secrecy and violence reminiscent of the worst Latin American drug cartels."

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: "The illegal charcoal trade and its violent kingpins are symptoms of a broader system of theft, corruption, and exploitation that has become systematic in Congo. This trade is not an isolated case, but it is uniquely damaging - not only to one of the world's most biodiverse places, but to human security and the rule of law. Policy interventions must be swift, forward-thinking, and inclusive of those individuals and organizations on the frontlines of the crisis. Better understanding the links between state and non-state actors that propel this trade could help spur more effective interventions to counter wider criminal networks throughout the region."

Ndobo, as the valuable charcoal from Virunga is called, is produced by cutting down and burning old-forest trees in the park. As the report documents, the destruction of these forests has come with devastating consequences for park rangers, local communities and extinction-facing wildlife like gorillas and elephants.

Dranginis added: "The criminal charcoal business in Virunga is leveling whole sections of rare and ancient tropical forest that is critical to climate security and endangered species in this region. Some heroic work is already underway to help protect Virunga. But time is running out to address the charcoal trade, which has operated for years with few successful interventions."

Covering roughly 3,000 square miles in northeastern Congo, Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Virunga’s biodiversity is unmatched by any other protected place in Africa, and includes rare bird species, some of the last mountain gorillas on earth, and endangered forest elephants. The park gained recent attention as the subject of the 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, “Virunga.”

Selected report highlights:

  • The armed rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is a kingpin in Africa’s Great Lakes region’s organized crime networks and a continuing threat to human security. For years, the group has helped sustain its activities by exploiting valuable natural resources, including minerals, ivory, fish, and marijuana. But one of the FDLR’s most successful revenue-generating businesses is the illicit charcoal trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s cherished Virunga National Park.
  • Headquartered deep in the remote southwestern sector of Virunga, the illegal charcoal trade is lucrative. Some have estimated it has an annual value of up to $35 million. As one park ranger told Enough, “Armed groups have turned Virunga into their sanctuary.” 
  • “It’s not just FDLR,” describes a source, “It’s police, politicians, and businessmen. It’s a big mafia.”  Some Congolese national police and military commanders are involved in the illegal charcoal trade. They draw significant revenues from profit-sharing with the FDLR, as well as their own production, trafficking, and taxation of illegal charcoal. Some state officials also provide critical protection to the FDLR’s commanders and officers in Virunga.
  • The prevalence of cross-border illegal charcoal trafficking from Virunga: Many have thought illegal charcoal is a purely Congolese affair, but testimonies revealed that Virunga's charcoal is trafficked at least as far as into Uganda and Rwanda as well.
  • The direct use of human rights violations in the regular course of business within illegal charcoal cartels includes reprisal murders, sexual slavery, and extreme forms of forced labor.

Key report recommendations:

  1. Policymakers should view the FDLR not as a strictly military, political, or ideological threat; it is also a profit-seeking organized crime network with state and civilian collaborators. In order to counter Congo’s charcoal mafia, high-ranking FDLR commanders and their partners within the Congolese army should be targeted for sanctions and prosecuted for their roles in the illegal trade. Authorities should improve sustainable defection opportunities for low-ranking soldiers within the FDLR in Virunga, to deprive the illegal trade of essential manpower.
  2. Given widespread dependence on charcoal as a primary source of fuel among households across the region, coercive efforts to end the charcoal trade such as military operations and targeted arrests must be accompanied by alternative fuel initiatives to prevent a sudden deficit of cooking fuel among millions of people in the region.
  3. Protection for defenders: MONUSCO justice and human rights units should increase protective monitoring and support to conservation activists who are targeted for defending Congo’s national parks and investigating environmental crimes, and refer cases of abuse to justice officials for investigation.
  4. The U.S. Congress should pass S.284 - Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which would give the United States authority to impose sanctions on anyone committing abuses against individuals seeking to expose illegal government activity. It should also pass anti-wildlife trafficking legislation, H.R. 2494, which would authorize technical assistance for protecting rangers and improving legal responses to attacks on forest defenders.
  5. The International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate the FDLR’s top military commander Sylvestre Mudacumura’s command and control over FDLR business operations—especially charcoal cartels—and pursue charges of natural resource pillage if sufficient evidence arises.
  6. Military Interventions: As plans for joint Congolese army-MONUSCO operations advance, Special Envoys Djinnit and Perriello should encourage selective joint operations against FDLR strongholds in Virunga, incorporating MONUSCO’s plan to target charcoal hubs and apprehend key FDLR commanders there.
  7. Demobilization Efforts: As MONUSCO considers reestablishing joint counter-FDLR operations with the Congolese army, it should improve its disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement (DDR/RR) efforts for FDLR combatants in Virunga.

Link to the full report: http://eno.ug/1YwPVcF

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

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About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
An atrocity prevention policy group, the Enough Project seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

Enough’s Brooks-Rubin to Senate: Modern Sanctions Policy Could Disrupt Violent Kleptocracy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Date: 
Jun 8, 2016

In today’s Foreign Relations hearing, former State and Treasury official details current failures, challenges, and a new approach for U.S. sanctions policy to target leaders and facilitators profiting from corruption, atrocities and armed violence

A modernized approach to U.S. sanctions policy would create real consequences for kleptocratic leaders and their international facilitators responsible for mass atrocities and armed violence in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Enough Project’s Brad Brooks-Rubin testified to the Senate today.

“As the Panama Papers revelations and our the work of our investigative initiative The Sentry investigations show,” Brooks-Rubin stated in his testimony, “the networks involved are using many of the same types of transactions that narco-traffickers, terrorist networks, and corrupt regimes in other parts of the world are using, and against which we have deployed the full array of tools of financial pressure. The violent kleptocracies in Africa all come back to money, and as a result, we have the power to use sanctions and other tools to disrupt them.”

In the Foreign Relations hearing on “U.S. Sanctions Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Brooks-Rubin, Director of Policy at the Enough Project and its new investigative initiative The Sentry, reviewed successes and challenges in current sanctions policy, and presented recommendations that would unleash more effective and targeted financial pressures and enforcement measures for countries caught in the nexus of corruption and violence like Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A former official at the State Department and the Department of the Treasury, Brooks-Rubin joined Ambassador Princeton Lyman and other distinguished witnesses in a dynamic discussion before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, Senator Jeff Flake presiding.

Selected excerpts from official testimony by Brad Brooks-Rubin:

  • “Men, women, and children across sub-Saharan Africa pay a price every day for the unchecked violence and resource theft committed by leaders who do not believe they will face real consequences for their actions.”
  • “Quite simply, we do not approach sanctions with respect to sub-Saharan Africa the way we do other critical national security and foreign policy crises.”
  • “Sanctions can and do have beneficial impact when they are carefully designed and strongly enforced.”  
  • “The simple fact is that we can do so much to modernize our sanctions approach for greater impact. But we need to choose sanctions and other financial pressures that will have the greatest economic impact on the particular networks in the area we’re targeting. We need to look beyond the pressure measures to the broader foreign policy goals and diplomatic engagement that promote good governance. And we must do more to mitigate different types of unintended consequences.”
  • “Regimes from Sudan to Zimbabwe have blamed sanctions for all manner of economic problems, many of which have nothing to do with sanctions at all but instead result from the authoritarian leaders within these regimes and the catastrophic economic decisions that they have made. But when we fail to explain how the sanctions work and show that they can evolve and be nimble over time, rather than become permanent forms of punishment, we give the likes of Bashir and Mugabe easy wins.”
  • “Sanctions have become the non-military tool of choice of the U.S. government to try to deliver those types of consequences across the globe, but sanctions in sub-Saharan Africa have thus far generally failed to achieve the desired impact. This is in large part because we repeatedly use the same types of tools.  We do not target key decision makers and their international facilitators. We rarely follow up or enforce sanctions with further actions. We do not integrate sanctions with other tools designed to promote improved governance. And we do not sufficiently mitigate the negative consequences associated with sanctions.”
  • “The failure has not been with our choice to use sanctions. The failure thus far, which can be readily addressed for the future, is in the limited way in which we have viewed the problems and use sanctions as a tool with sub-Saharan Africa. We have not yet approached these countries with the serious economic lens they deserve, especially before situations become crises. As a result, we have thus far deployed only a limited selection of sanctions measures or approaches in sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • “As of today, at least with respect to addressing conflicts and violent kleptocracies across the continent, sanctions and financial pressure are under-leveraged.”
  • “Too often we underestimate or misunderstand the sources of violence, thinking of them simply as brutal conflicts between rival ethnic groups or strongmen seeking power. At the Enough Project, we analyze five countries—Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, and Somalia—through the lens of what we call “violent kleptocracy.” We view these violent kleptocracies as systems in which those in power and their networks of facilitators and enablers engage in grand corruption and foment violence. The state is completely hijacked to these purposes.  And there is little to no meaningful governance or public service provision to benefit the people.  Violence and mass corruption are not aberrations of the system; they are the system itself. The particular structure, actors, and specific means of implementing violent kleptocracy may differ between countries, but they all feature these hallmarks, as do many others on the continent.”
  • “In my experience, as a former attorney at the U.S. Treasury Department advising the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and as an officer in the Economic Bureau of the State Department focused on natural resources and conflict, I have worked on many such sanctions efforts related to the continent. I have seen, when a crisis emerges, from Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to South Sudan to Burundi, we almost immediately look in the sanctions toolbox. But despite the existence of good examples and incredible expertise within the interagency, we too often end up resigned to using the same necessary but insufficient tools: limited numbers of asset freezes, travel bans, and, on occasion, an arms embargo. These tools tend to be long on message and short on financial impact. When these sanctions measures are not flanked well by other efforts, they frequently fail.”
  • “Clear information about which parties are and are not subject to sanctions designations can help mitigate many unintended and unnecessary consequences for sanctions.”
  • “We have not yet brought to sub-Saharan Africa the same sense of urgency to counter threats related to terrorism or drug trafficking.”

Six key recommendations, to deliver an effective and modernized sanctions approach in sub-Saharan Africa:

  1. Ensure that sanctions fit within a broader policy approach with clear policy goals;
  2. Develop better intelligence and expertise on a broader set of potential targets that ensure the actions we take will fulfill the policy goals we are seeking to achieve and disrupt the financial flows involved;
  3. Employ modern sanctions tools beyond targeted designations and travel bans;
  4. Build on the actions we take and have the courage to double down at key junctures rather than easing pressure;
  5. Prioritize civil and criminal enforcement actions under these programs to prevent them from becoming empty gestures; and
  6. Take better steps to keep sanctions temporary and mitigate negative impacts.

Types of critical actions recommended to directly increase the impact of sanctions in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Use the particular kinds of designation criteria that are designed to deliver financial impact, such as for acts of public corruption and looting of state assets, and go after much high-level targets overall;
  • Keep the pressure on designated individuals and entities at key junctures and enforce the sanctions we put forward;
  • Employ sectoral and even secondary sanctions as needed to act specifically on key economic vulnerabilities and pressure banks to take these crises seriously;
  • Push the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to look beyond drugs and terrorism when acting against money laundering on the continent, something it has never done;
  • Develop public reporting requirements for private-sector actors, particularly investors, in target countries, as used effectively in Burma;
  • Integrate sanctions more holistically with broader policy efforts advancing good governance and responsible business;
  • Issue strong messages against de-risking; and
  • Pass the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and allocate to the Department of the Treasury and other U.S. government agencies a greater share of intelligence and investigative resources that can be dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa.

Complete SFRC testimony of Mr. Brooks-Rubin: http://eno.ug/1RWA8MP

Hearing details and video:  http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/us-sanctions-policy-in-sub-saharan-africa-060816

Interview availability: Mr. Brooks-Rubin will be available for selected media interviews following the hearing. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

About THE SENTRY
The Sentry seeks to dismantle the networks of perpetrators, facilitators, and enablers who fund and profit from Africa’s deadliest conflicts. Our investigations follow the money from conflict zones and into global economic centers, using open source data collection, field research, and state-of-the-art network analysis technology. The Sentry provides information and analysis that engages civil society and media, supports regulatory action and prosecutions, and provides policymakers with the information they require to take effective action. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an initiative of the Enough Project and Not On Our Watch (NOOW), with its implementing partner C4ADS. Learn more at TheSentry.org

Enough’s Brooks-Rubin to Testify to Senate on Sub-Saharan Africa, New Approach to Sanctions

Date: 
Jun 6, 2016

This Wednesday, June 8th, Brad Brooks-Rubin, Policy Director at the Enough Project, will testify before the Senate on “U.S. Sanctions Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa,” detailing both successes and significant challenges of current sanctions policy, and presenting recommendations for a modernized approach to sanctions in the region.

A former official at the State Department and the Department of the Treasury, Brooks-Rubin will join other distinguished witnesses before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy.

When: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Where: Room 419, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Presiding: Senator Flake

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Sue E. Eckert
    Senior Fellow, Watson Institute International And Public Affairs, Brown University
     
  • Dr. Todd Moss
    Chief Operating Officer And Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
     
  • The Honorable Princeton N. Lyman
    Senior Advisor To The President, United States Institute of Peace
     
  • Mr. Brad Brooks-Rubin
    Director of Policy, Enough Project

Testimony livestream and hearing details:  http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/us-sanctions-policy-in-sub-saharan-africa-060816

Interview availability: Mr. Brooks-Rubin will be available for selected media interviews following the hearing. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

Companies File Third Round of Conflict Minerals Reports, SEC, Government Agencies Must Follow Through

Date: 
May 26, 2016

 

May 31st marks the third annual deadline for electronics, manufacturing, and other companies to file conflict minerals reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as part of their obligation under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. With three years of reporting now completed, the SEC must follow through on its responsibility to hold companies accountable for the content of these reports by ensuring that companies have filed complete and accurate reports that meet regulatory requirements. 

The reporting requirement impacts all companies publicly traded in the United States with products containing any of the four conflict minerals: tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.

Dodd-Frank 1502, the corresponding SEC Conflict Minerals Rule, and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance are important transparency measures to help stem the flow of conflict minerals from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo), where over 5.4 million people have died since 1993 as a result of armed conflict. These measures are one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing this issue. Other policy steps on governance are also needed to end the conflict, grand corruption, and wider repression in Congo.

Since the first filing deadline in 2014, there has been steady progress both in supply chain management and impact on armed group funding in Congo. Today, 216 out of approximately 324 smelters and refiners worldwide (67 percent) have passed conflict-free audits and an additional 50 smelters/refiners are in the process of being audited, for a total of 266 participating companies (82 percent).  These audits are a crucial step towards ensuring conflict-free supply chains. Additionally, a 2014 independent study by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) found that 70 percent of tin, tungsten, and tantalum mines surveyed in eastern Congo were no longer controlled by armed groups, and 204 mines in Congo are now officially certified as conflict-free.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Dodd-Frank Section 1502 is increasing the rule of law in a previously conflict-rife minerals trade in Congo and the region, helping to make 70% of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines conflict-free, as IPIS found. Several companies such as Intel, Apple, and Ford are leading the way to implement the law and go beyond, demanding increased transparency from suppliers and traders – a far cry from the pre-Dodd-Frank era of zero supply chain transparency. However, some companies are still choosing to do next to nothing to show that they actually investigated their supply chains to know whether or not there are conflict minerals in them. That must change.”

Brad Brooks-Rubin, Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “It is time for the SEC to follow through on company compliance on conflict minerals. Not all companies are doing proper due diligence and taking this regulatory reporting requirement seriously. In order for there to be meaningful industry-wide change, the SEC must take steps to demonstrate that companies will be held appropriately accountable for the content of their reports.”

Annie Callaway, Advocacy & Activist Manager at the Enough Project, said: “Through the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, dozens of schools, cities, and states across the country and internationally have implemented policies that alter their procurement structures to favor companies that are working to become conflict-free. These entities, as well as consumers and investors more broadly, rely on accurate conflict minerals reports in order to make informed purchasing decisions and evaluate whether product supply chains directly or indirectly fund armed violence in Congo.” 

Companies and governments, both in the West and in Central Africa, must take further steps in addition to the SEC reporting requirement to help end the conflict minerals trade in Congo. Companies should urge their suppliers to source from conflict-free mines in Congo, and commit resources to livelihoods support for Congolese mining communities. The U.S. and European governments should provide additional funding to the minerals certification system in the region, in particular to the Independent Mineral Chain Auditor of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR); they must also pressure the Congolese government to hold elections on time in accordance with Congo’s constitution. However, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the corresponding Conflict Minerals Rule establish an important baseline for transparency that must be enforced in order to remain effective. 

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Megha Swamy, Media Relations Specialist, +1 202 478 5323mswamy@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

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